European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 165-194

First online:

The Public Interest Theory of Regulation: Non-Existence or Misinterpretation?

  • Michael Hantke-DomasAffiliated withCentre for Competition and Regulation, University of East Anglia

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The Public Interest Theory of regulation explains, in general terms, that regulation seeks the protection and benefit of the public at large. This paper argues that possibly the Public Interest Theory does not exist as such for reasons that will be discussed later. In addition, the paper contends that the Stigler's and Posner's characterisation of the Public Interest Theory has similarities with the welfare economics rationale for regulation. Nevertheless, the similarities do not prove or deny a connection between both the concepts of public interest and the welfare economics rationale for regulation.

theories of regulation public interest history of microeconomics welfare economics law and economics of regulated industries regulation